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Three Steps After a Washing Machine Leak

Thursday, March 5th, 2020
washing machine leak

A typical household washing machine uses from 4,500 to over 13,000 gallons of water in an average year. If nothing goes wrong, all that water cleans the family’s clothes, then passes into the household drain system without incident. If not, here are some typical washing machine leak scenarios and what to do if it happens.

Ruptured Supply Hose

Hoses connecting the unit to the hot and cold faucets on the wall behind are frequently rubber. Over time, the hose becomes brittle and may rupture. A broken washer supply hose can release 650 gallons of water per hour into your home. Indoor water damage due to ruptured washing machine hoses can exceed $10,000 if nobody’s home when it happens.

What to do: Studies show a washing machine supply hose lasts an average of 8.7 years. Don’t press your luck. Replace risky rubber supply hoses now with more reliable braided stainless steel lines.

If a rupture occurs, turn off both water supply faucets on the wall to stop the flow. Flooding from these cases typically requires professional water damage recovery services.

Leaky Pump

The internal water pump removes water from the machine tub after each cycle. Pump leaks generally appear as intermittent pooling on the floor beneath and around the machine. In most cases, leakage is intermittent, occurring only when the unit is running.

What to do: Turn the washer off and unplug it from the wall. Turn off water at the supply faucets on the all. Mop up the water and call for professional appliance service.  

Clogged Drain Pipe

A flexible hose connects the washer to an open PVC drain pipe on the wall behind the unit that conveys wastewater into the house sewer system. A blockage in this pipe typically causes overflow out of the top of the pipe when the washer drain cycle empties the tub.

What to do: Shut off the unit. Mop up the water around and behind the unit. Clearing a clogged washer drain pipe requires a professional plumber. Don’t run the washer again until the plumber has resolved the issue.

Is An Upstairs Laundry Room Water Damage Waiting To Happen?

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020
laundry room water damage

Recent homebuilding statistics reveal an increasing trend of locating the laundry room on an upper floor in new houses. Convenience seems to be the driving force. Upstairs is where the dirty laundry is, after all.

What Can Go Wrong?

Washing machines and associated plumbing rank high on the list of household water damage perpetrators. A washer overflowing in an unfinished concrete basement or ground-floor laundry room is a messy, sometimes expensive event. On an upper floor, however, it can be a disaster. Water naturally spreads downward through the structure, infiltrating wall cavities and penetrating ceilings in rooms below.

Certain preventive measures can keep that upper floor laundry room not only convenient but also less likely to become the source of expensive water damage:

  • Replace rubber water supply hoses now. Rubber washer hoses can rupture without warning and release hundreds of gallons of water into the laundry room, which then flows through walls and ceilings into living spaces below. Stainless steel washer supply lines last longer and are not prone to rupture suddenly like rubber.
  • Place the washer in a drain pan. To guard against water damage from washer overflows or defects such as a leaky pump, a drain pan designed to fit beneath the washer catches water and diverts it safely into a hose connected to a household drain.
  • Make shutoff valves accessible. Shutting off the water supply to the washer when it’s not being used is a basic flood-prevention strategy. However, straining to reach behind the washer to turn off standard hot and cold water valves every time is a chore. Replace individual rotary valves with a single lever-operated unit that operates both hot and cold valves simultaneously with one easy motion. Units specifically made for this purpose can be installed by a plumber.
  • Install leak detection technology. Laundry room leak detectors include a floor sensor to detect washer overflows or other plumbing leakages before the damage becomes extensive. In addition to sounding a loud audio alarm, the unit can send you a text or email to alert you of the problem.

Spring Cleaning is a Great Time to Detect Water Damage

Thursday, April 4th, 2019

Spring cleaning sometimes reveals welcome surprises: that missing sock you’ve been looking for since last November, the lost reading glasses you replaced a month ago. Another unsuspected discovery during this annual housekeeping binge could be evidence of ongoing water damage. Spring cleaning can reveal telltale clues that have gone unnoticed during your normal daily routine.

While you’re clearing out last winter’s clutter and getting the house ready for summer, be alert to these subtle signs of water damage:

  • Unexplained ceiling stains. If you can’t wipe them away during spring cleaning, maybe there’s another explanation: migrating water leakage. If a second-floor bathroom is situated approximately above first-floor ceiling stains, one likely suspect is the shower stall. Leaky connections to the water control valve recessed inside the bathroom wall may be at fault. Leakage from the shower drain pan sealed underneath the stall is another possibility.
  • Hidden appliance leaks. Enthusiastic spring cleaning can take you places you don’t normally see. For example, removing the kick plate on the front of the dishwasher and inspecting underneath with a flashlight. Slow drips from a leaky dishwasher drain hose or defective pump may be rotting wood flooring beneath the unit without any external signs. In the laundry room, check washing machine supply hoses and connections. Any drips or evidence of seepage is not just evidence of unseen water damage to the wall and floor behind the washer, it could also be a warning sign of an impending hose rupture that could cause catastrophic indoor flooding to the house.
  • Persistent odors. Throwing open the windows and airing out the house is a spring cleaning tradition. If that musty smell you’ve been noticing lately doesn’t go away, however, it could be a sign that mold triggered by unseen water damage is growing somewhere in the house. Moldy odors that don’t dissipate should be a red flag to have the house inspected for presence of active mold growth as well as the hidden water leakage or moisture that feeds it.

4 Ways to Avoid Dishwasher Overflow and Flooding

Tuesday, March 5th, 2019

Like washing machines, dishwashers are often operated in a “set it and forget it” mode. Frequently, residents start a load of dishes, then go to bed. However, even when people are up and around, little attention is paid to proper functioning of the dishwasher. However, dishwashers can be the source of slow, long-term leakage as well as major overflow—both of which cause significant water damage. Cost of remediating damage after a dishwasher overflow, including preventing potential mold growth, averages around $5,000.

Overflow can result from four common issues:

  • Too much detergent. A consumer dishwasher isn’t a rigorously watertight device. Over-sudsing can fill the unit to a level where leakage of sudsy water out the front door is likely. Use only detergent specifically intended for dishwashers and purchase quality products: consumers often compensate for cheap detergent brands by adding an excess amount. This leads to high sudsing and overflow on your kitchen floor.  
  • Door gasket failing. The rubber gasket sealing your dishwasher door is subject to wear and tear. Over time, it may lose its elasticity to seal properly and/or develop cracks or splits that allow leakage. Occasionally, some food debris may become caught in the gasket and is allowing leakage. In this case, cleaning the gasket may resolve the problem. Otherwise, gasket replacement is usually required to stop leakage that is traced to the door.
  • Defective water inlet valve. The inlet valve starts and stops the flow of water into your dishwasher. A faulty valve—usually the result of defective solenoids—may not allow any water into the unit if it fails in the closed mode. Alternatively, it may stick open and allow too much water, resulting in overflow. Troubleshooting and repair of a dishwasher inlet valve requires expertise working with electrical valves and should be left to a qualified appliance service person.
  • Faulty float switch or sensor. The float switch or sensor detects the level of water in the unit and shuts off the flow to prevent overflow. If the switch/sensor fails, water level in the unit will continue to rise and eventually cause flooding. Replacement of the component is required.

How To Extend The Life Of Your Dishwasher

Thursday, November 30th, 2017

dishwasherIs a dishwasher backing up a sign that the end is near? The average service life of dishwashers is about 9 years. Severe backups can leak water out the dishwasher front door seal and cause kitchen water damage. Usually, however, they are a symptom of some repairable issue versus a sign that your dishwasher is on the verge of total failure. In fact, the problem may actually originate outside the dishwasher itself, in the the sink or garbage disposal. Before you assume that a dishwasher backing up needs to be replaced with a new unit, try these tips to troubleshoot the issue:

  • Remove the bottom rack from the unit. Locate the drain openings in the back of the dishwasher pan and feel for scraps of food or other debris that may be impeding proper drainage. Clear any blockage, replace the rack and test the dishwasher.
  • If backup recurs, look under the kitchen sink for the dishwasher drain hose connected to the garbage disposal. Straighten the hose if it if it appears to have become kinked or twisted, blocking free flow of drain water from the dishwasher.
  • If the hose appears functional, fill the sink with hot water, then remove the stopper and turn on the disposal. Allow hot water to flush the disposal for several minutes. If drainage through the disposal appears very slow or totally obstructed, you now know that the backup problem is a clogged disposal, not a dishwasher issue.
  • Locate the air gap, a cylindrical metal unit typically on top of the sink beside the faucet. It’s actually a backflow prevention device in the dishwasher drain path to keep dirty sink or disposal water from flowing back into the dishwasher. If the air gap becomes clogged with debris, however, it will also inhibit proper dishwasher drainage flow into the disposal and backup will occur. Most air gaps have a top cover that can be unscrewed to check for clogging debris and clean out the unit.

Ask the Rytech professionals for more solutions to potential water damage issues like a dishwasher backing up.


Simple Tips To Prevent Water Damage From Home Appliances

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

leaky applianceWhen thinking about ways to prevent water damage, don’t overlook home appliances. While ruptured water supply lines are certainly a major cause of indoor flooding, appliances connected to those pipes also contribute to the risk of household water damage.

How to prevent water damage

To prevent water damage, be aware of the condition of these common appliances, follow manufacturer’s recommendations for regular maintenance and keep the following tips in mind:

Washing Machine – Washers usually come standard with rubber water supply hoses. Over time, they become brittle, crack and may rupture without warning. Make it a habit to replace rubber washer supply hoses every five years. Even better, replace them with braided stainless steel supply lines, instead, that have longer service life. Another preventive measure: Don’t start a load in the washer and then leave the house. If you’re going to be away for an extended time, turn off the water supply to the washer at the valves on the wall behind it.

Dishwasher – Dishwasher water supply is under household pressure of 40 p.s.i. or higher—enough to cause water damage like any broken pipe elsewhere in the home. Early signs of dishwasher leaks often occur at plumbing connections that are out of sight beneath or behind the unit. It’s a good idea to remove the front kick plate two or thee times a year and look underneath the dishwasher with a flashlight for dripping or other signs of water. Check both while the unit is off and also while it’s filling.

Refrigerator – The 1/4-inch plastic or copper water tube that supplies the icemaker with fresh water connects to the rear of the refrigerator. If the unit is shoved too close to the wall, a plastic tube may be crushed or otherwise damaged and leak. If the refrigerator’s pulled too far away and over-stresses the supply tube, the connection may leak or totally detach and flood the kitchen. Be careful when moving the refrigerator and always check behind the unit for leakage when you do.